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Counting Donkeys and Elephants:. 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections. Step by Step. 1. The U.S. Political System 3 Branches 2. The President’s Place 3. Electing the President Who can be president? (legal requirements) The Election Process 4. Election Day and Beyond.

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Counting donkeys and elephants l.jpg

Counting Donkeys and Elephants:

2008 U.S. Presidential Elections

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Step by Step

1. The U.S. Political System

3 Branches

2. The President’s Place

3. Electing the President

Who can be president? (legal requirements)

The Election Process

4. Election Day and Beyond

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Back to the Roots

Founding Fathers’ Main Objectives:

Representation of the people

Avoid TOO MUCH power in one place

(oppressive rulers)

Satisfy varying needs

Encourage unity (compromise)

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2.7 million civilian employees

1.7 million military employees

Official US Executive Branch Websites

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Separation of Power

Checks and Balances

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Leader of the Free World?

Head of State


Legislative leader

Chief Administrator

Power to appoint personnel

Must work with Congress (compromise!)

White House official website

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I want to be Commander in Chief!

Legal requirements:

Natural-born U.S. citizen

At least 35 years old

Lived in the U.S. 14 years (min.)

Unofficial Typecast



Generally Protestant

A New Precedent

Redefining Gender and Race

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“Testing the Waters”

Getting a feel for party’s potential candidate nomination

Intra-party competition

Seeking out:

Large amounts of money

Broad base of support

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Fewer challengers

Current state of affairs

Support of party

Opposition Parties

Unknown figures

Starting from scratch

Full-blown campaign

Many challengers

Time and money

  • Only one “winner”

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Declaring Candidacy





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Primaries and Caucuses




Direct voting to choose candidate on state level

New Hampshire





Local meetings of registered party members

Iowa’s impact

Returning government to the people!

“Super Tuesday”

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The Primaries Process

Hillary Clinton

Mike Huckabee

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Garnering Support

  • Clinton

    • Chelsea

    • America Ferrara

  • Obama

    • Oprah

    • John Kerry

  • McCain

    • Guiliani

    • Schwarzenegger


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National Conventions

A Party Tradition

Not legally mandated

Baltimore 1832

Build unity

Party platform

Ceremonial Nomination of Candidate

Running Mate declared

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About 3 months before Election Day


Direct media exposure

Build excitement

National Conventions cont’d

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We have a winner!

Or at least a candidate!

Campaigning begins!

The goal:

score 270 electoral votes!!

What are electoral votes?


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Method Behind the Madness?

What is it?

An indirect election system

Popular vote does NOT decide president

Electors cast “electoral votes” that ultimately decide

Who are electors?

Prominent people

Active in political parties

To learn more about the Electoral College

National Archives on the Electoral College

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Who Gets What?

How does it work?

# Electors = # Senators + # Reps in House of Reps

i.e. CA = 55 electors

= 2 Senators + 53 representatives in the House of Reps

Washington, DC = 3 electors


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A Popularity Contest

Why do we have this system?

Founding Fathers lack of faith in the “average citizen”

Ensuring men of sound judgment

Knowledgeable standpoint

A check on popular opinion,

Amplifying and clarifying voice of people

Or nullifying it?

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Is this Democracy?

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Long Campaign

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Campaign “Strategy”

Financing a campaign

“Swing/Battleground States”

The Internet Campaign

Role of media/polls

Discussing the issues

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Campaign Finance

Where does the money come from?

Top Donors



Matching Funds - yes or no?

Figures from elections past

Over $880 million spent in 2004

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Battleground States”

Also “swing states”

States that are still “undecided” in who is likely to capture their electoral votes.

Rather than waste time and money on sealing a larger margin of victory in “guaranteed” states, candidates tend to focus on winning these all-important regions.

creating “spectator states”

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The Internet

  • Individual Candidate Sites

    • Presenting a platform

  • You-Tube

    • Debates

      • Republican

      • Democrat

    • Out of Control?

      • Anti - Hillary Ad

  • Fundraising

71% of Americans have internet at home

Public schools & libraries are on-line

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The Major Issues


Renewable energy


Financial Crisis

Health Care


National Security


Foreign Relations



  • Discover the Candidates Stances on the Issues at:

  • CNN Election 2008


  • BBC News

  • Personal candidate websites

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Advertising the Issues

Reaching out to specific populations

Advertising techniques

ex: Latino community

Interest groups

Negative ad campaigns

Debates focusing on the issues

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Election debates

Obama vs. McCain (57.40)

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Election Day1st Tuesday after the 1st Monday in November

Time zones

trials & tribulations

Exit poll predictions

Voter turn-out

Voting method

Absentee ballots

Varied voting machines

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Making It Official

Electors cast their “official” votes

Separate ballots for President and Vice President

Certified by state governor

Sent to President of the Senate

Maryland’s 2000 electors

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Congressional Confirmation

January 6, (unless a Sunday)

joint session of Congress

certificates opened

votes tallied

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Inauguration Day

January 20

Inauguration Ceremony

Capitol Building

Pictures from

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Oath of Office Ceremony

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”